From: colonel@37thtexas.org
To: leslie.taylor@roanoke.com

I found your editorial interesting, especially since my family has ties with Virginia and Virginia history dating back to 1632 (the year my mother’s exiled Irish MacQuillan ancestors arrived in Jamestown), 1690 (when my father’s exiled Irish Kelley ancestors arrived) and 1698 (when my father’s exiled French Huguenot LeGrand ancestors arrived).

The son of that French religious exile was Peter "The Burgess" LeGrand who served in the Virginia House of Burgesses from 1756-1776 with many of the Founding Fathers and was present at the First Revolutionary Council.

My Great-great Granduncle’s home at the Appomattox Surrender Grounds, the Kelley House, may cast its shadow over the unmarked grave of my Great-great Grandfather, Lawson Kelley, whose tombstone was removed by the NPS in the mid-1960s so that exhuming him would not "mess up the grass." One supposes that the fact that he was a Confederate veteran might have had something to do with that comment and action.

I remember coming back to Virginia in 1963 from a year living in coastal Mississippi to attend the 8th grade at Homer L. Ferguson High School and, happily, finding that it was fully and successfully integrated. The integrated 6th grade in California in 1961-1962 had convinced me of the logic of my upbringing that (to quote my parents) "Each person is an individual and to be judged solely on individual character."

I have ancestral connections with Virginia but I also have a greater connection to the real history of Virginia and the South. Real history is very interesting.

In real history the first Africans who arrived in Jamestown in 1619 were not slaves, but indentured servants serving a five-year indenture just like their white European counterparts. The real story of how lifetime servitude – slavery – came to be established in Virginia is quite a revelation to most people:

Virginia, Guide to The Old Dominion, WPA Writers’ Program, Oxford University Press, NY, 1940, p. 378

"In 1650 there were only 300 negroes in Virginia, about one percent of the population. They weren’t slaves any more than the approximately 4,000 white indentured servants working out their loans for passage money to Virginia, and who were granted 50 acres each when freed from their indentures, so they could raise their own tobacco.

Slavery was established in 1654 when Anthony Johnson, Northampton County, convinced the court that he was entitled to the lifetime services of John Casor, a negro. This was the first judicial approval of life servitude, except as punishment for a crime.

But who was Anthony Johnson, winner of this epoch-making decision? Anthony Johnson was a negro himself, one of the original 20 brought to Jamestown (1619) and ‘sold’ to the colonists. By 1623 he had earned his freedom and by 1651, was prosperous enough to import five ‘servants’ of his own, for which he received a grant of 250 acres as ‘headrights.’

Anthony Johnson ought to be in a ‘Book of Firsts.’ As the most ambitious of the first 20, he could have been the first negro to set foot on Virginia soil. He was Virginia’s first free negro and first to establish a negro community, first negro landowner, first negro slave owner and as the first, white or black, to secure slave status for a servant, he was actually the founder of slavery in Virginia.

A remarkable man."

At a time when Abraham Lincoln was still espousing his support for white supremacy and colonization of all African-Americans back to Africa or to Central America and just a few years before in 1860 he supported, as President-Elect, the Corwin Amendment which would have left slavery forever protected as it then existed there was a Virginian who made his own position about slavery crystal clear:

"There are few, I believe, in this enlightened age, who will not acknowledge that slavery as an institution is a moral and political evil. It is idle to expatiate on its disadvantages. I think it is a greater evil to the white than to the colored race." – Col. Robert E. Lee, United States Army, December 27, 1856

While many of the states that would later be part of the Civil War Union had "Black Codes" that forbade Free Blacks and Free People of Color from residing in their states (Illinois had added it to their State Constitution and enforced it even after the "Emancipation Proclamation") Virginia also had such a "Black Code" on the books. However, by 1860 it was unenforced and the U.S. Census reported that 64,000 Free Blacks and Free People of Color resided in Virginia and that they owned homes, farms and businesses.

The Union did not allow Blacks as part of their military in roles other than those of servant and menials until 1863. In comparison the South had a real history of Black military service to their states which was established long before secession and the Civil War:

"Almost fifty years before the (Civil) War, the South was already enlisting and utilizing Black manpower, including Black commissioned officers, for the defense of their respective states. Therefore, the fact that Free and slave Black Southerners served and fought for their states in the Confederacy cannot be considered an unusual instance, rather continuation of an established practice with verifiable historical precedence." – "The African-American Soldier: From Crispus Attucks to Colin Powell" by Lt. Col

[Ret.] Michael Lee Lanning, Birch Lane Press (June 1997)

The central Confederate government "forbade" Black enlistment as regular soldiers but most of the Confederate Army retained its primarily loyalty to their respective states and did what they wanted, including Virginia:

"Robert (Uncle Bob) Wilson, Negro veteran of the Confederate army who observed his 112th birthday last January 13, died early yesterday morning in the veterans’ hospital at the Elgin State hospital…He enlisted as a private in Company H of the 16th regiment of Virginia Infantry on Oct. 9, 1862 and discharged May 31, 1863." – Elgin (Illinois) Daily Courier-News, Monday, April 12, 1948

While the Union Army maintained strict segregation the Confederate Army had in its unsegregated combat ranks 13,000 Indians (Cherokee Chief Stand Watie was a Brigadier General), 6500 Hispanics (nine of them Colonels), 3500 Jews (including Judah P. Benjamin, the CS Secretary of State), tens of thousands of immigrants, Filipinos from Louisiana, two Amerasian sons of Chang and Eng (the first "Siamese Twins") and an unknown but significant number of Black Confederate soldiers.

If you would like to communicate with 1st SGT Robert Harrison of the 37th Texas, one of our three Black Sergeants, he resides in Virginia Beach. I have taken the liberty of making him an addressee to this communication.

I was born in 1950 and my current residence is home address on Coastal Mississippi (where Hurricane Katrina REALLY hit) is #61. Along the path of my odyssey I have lived in virtually every region of the country and even a few places overseas. I attended nine elementary schools, four high schools and three colleges and spent almost ten years as a Naval aviator.

I bounced in and out of the South before, during and after the civil rights movement and I saw and participated in the changes as someone who had never learned racism. I also remember my family being turned away from restaurants and motels in the South because they were Black-owned and we were white. I have seen that the greatest progress in race relations has been in the Southern states – speaking as someone who is part-Seminole with two half-Filipino sons.

The conflict in the South which has been perpetuated by "rights" groups espousing the continuation of an unequal and selectively discriminatory society in the name of "inclusion" and "diversity" was ably and accurately predicted by Irish-born Confederate Major General Patrick Cleburne from his January, 1864, letter which proposed the mass emancipation and enlistment of Black Southerners into the Confederate Army:

"The conqueror’s policy is to divide the conquered into factions and stir up animosity among them…"

History leads me to question why an "apology for slavery" should not begin with the descendants of Anthony Johnson, who founded slavery in Virginia and English-speaking America, and the descendants of the 25,000 Black and mulatto slaveowners who existed in the South in 1860.

The country, and especially the South, has "moved on" as a whole and just like military veterans of the Civil War all former slaves are long gone. When will all of us "move on" and establish the color-blind society which was supposed to be the legacy of the civil rights movement?

"The first law of the historian is that he shall never dare utter an untruth. The second is that he shall suppress nothing that is true. Moreover, there shall be no suspicion of partiality in his writing, or of malice." – Cicero (106-43 B.C.)

We simply ask that all act upon the facts of history. We invite your questions.

Your Obedient Servant,

Colonel Michael Kelley, CSA
Commanding, 37th Texas Cavalry (Terrell’s)
http://www.37thtexas.org
"We are a band of brothers!"

". . . political correctness has replaced witch trials and communist hearings as the preferred way to torment our fellow countrymen." "Ghost Riders," Sharyn McCrumb, 2004, Signet, pp. 9

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